SOME financial experts yesterday warned that the impasse on the 2017 budget would affect its implementation and increase the current economic slowdown if allowed to lingered on. The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Lagos that the lingering crisis between the federal government and the National Assembly on the budget was not good for economic development of the country. Prof. Sheriffadeen Tella of the Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, said that the country needed to strengthen, present and approve the budget early so as to achieve the desired goals. Tella called on the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office to work closely with the National Assembly for effective resolution of the pending issues to ensure passage of the budget latest by January 2017. According to him, the challenges facing the country should not be compounded with the budget impasse. He said that the nation would continue to experience budget spillover with the development. “Whatever we want to achieve in one year, we can’t achieve it again with the impasse because there will be a spill over,” Tella said, appealing to the
National Assembly to give the budget accelerated hearing in the interest of the economy. For his part, Dr Uche Uwaleke, the head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said the country was running late on the issue of the 2017 budget. Uwaleke stated that the development was worrisome and detrimental to economic growth. “The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 requires the framework for the budget, that is MTEF/FSP, to be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration at least four months to the end of the financial year. “But the 2017-2019 MTEF was not forwarded till Oct. 4 and to make matters worse, it was returned by the Senate on the ground that the document lacked details,’’ Uwaleke said. He said that the executive should expedite action on the document and re-submit it to the Senate for immediate consideration and approval. Uwaleke, however, urged the Senate to ensure that the 2017appropriation bill was attended to before the end of the year once the issue was resolved. Government planned to spend an estimated N6.812 trillion as its budget for 2017, which is about 13.3 percent higher than N6.06 trillion budgeted for 2016.
It also pegged the oil benchmark at 42.50 dollars per barrel of crude oil with 2.2 million barrels per day and the exchange rate was pegged at N290 per dollar. Government also allocated the sum of N2.6 trillion for recurrent expenditure; N1.8 trillion for capital expenditure; N1.6 trillion for debt servicing and N370 billion for statutory transfers. FRSC proposes N31.18bn budget Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, informed the Senate yesterday that it has earmarked some N6billion for the recruitment of new staff next year. It also proposed N31bn as its total budget for the 2017 fiscal year. Out of the said amount, N953.7million is for overheads; N2.34billion for capital projects; and N29.9billion estimated to cover personnel cost. This is as financial experts have warned that the impasse on the 2017 budget could affect its implementation and increase the current economic hardship. Corps Marshall of the Commission, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi made the disclosure when the Senate Committee on Federal Character visited the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. According to Boboye, though President Muhammadu Buhari had given approval for recruitment of personnel into the Commission next year, he however said the exercise would commence if funds are released for the purpose by the federal government. He added that the money proposed by the Commission for the exercise would be used for the purchase of kits for applicants. Giving a breakdown into the performance of the 2016 budget, Oyeyemi said out of N686,679,781 appropriated, the sum of N460,574,117 representing 67.07 % was released for overheads. For implementation of capital projects, the Corps Marshall said out of N2.34billion appropriated, the sum of N912.9million was released by the Federal Ministry Finance, a figure which places performance at 38.9 percent. He added that total revenue of N1.46billion was generated by the Commission as at September 30, 2016 and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account, CRF. Faulting the Commission over its failure to give details of revenue generated from issuance of vehicle plate numbers, Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North), said same was likely to boost the revenue generation mechanism of the Commission. Another lawmaker, Senator Duro Faseyi (PDP, Ekiti), who described the total budget performance of the Commission as “nonsense,” decried its low performance. “Let us tell ourselves the truth. I have nothing encouraging to say about this. How can one commend the Commission when releases are less than 40 percent? This will be the first time we are seeing this. It is nonsense. I have nothing else to say,” Senator Faseyi lamented.

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